Solidarity wants SABC to pay for journalists legal costs


Trade union Solidarity has said it would approach the Labour Court to request that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) be held liable for the legal costs of the eight journalist axed last month.

This comes after the court ruled on July 26th that the dismissal of senior investigate reporter Jacque Steenkamp, SAfm Current Affairs Executive Producer Krivani Pillay, Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) Executive Producer Foeta Krige, RSG Senior Journalist Suna Venter, Economics Editor Thandeka Gqubule, Parliamentary Correspondent Lukhanyo Calata and Special Assignment Executive Producer Busi Ntuli amounted to unfair labour practises, and that they should be reinstated with immediate effect.

The seven, along with freelance reporter Vuyo Mvoko, were fired by the public broadcaster for allegedly questioning its controversial editorial decision not to show violent protests on television. While the seven have since returned to work, Mvoko is still challenging the broadcaster after his contract was halted.

In passing the court’s verdict, Judge Andre van Niekerk also stated that any disciplinary actions against be journalists be dropped with immediate effect, and that the broadcaster pay for the legal costs.

Speaking in statement, Solidarity Centre for Fair Labour Practises Head, Anton van der Bijl, said the SABC’s original statement on why it should not be held accountable for the costs “contained only vague allegations”, and that it would push for the matter to be resolved completely.

“We approached the court to give a formal decision as to who should be held accountable for the unnecessary costs squandered on this case,” van der Bijl said.

“We cannot and will not leave the matter here, and the persons who took the decision and who were part of the decision to dismiss the individuals must pay every cent of these costs. The taxpayer simply cannot be held accountable for the SABC’s unlawful actions”.